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6. He gave

that so much care has been taken in Scripture, and by God's Providence guiding His Church in all ages, to guard the doctrines once for all delivered to the Saints, and keep men steady and uniform in them. If this were not a principal object in the eye of Divine Wisdom, is it conceivable that the great Apostle should have introduced it as he has done when speaking to the Ephesians as one main result of the coming of the Holy Ghost, the very bond between heaven and earth? It is one of the passages, in which he writes like one soaring majestically upward, flight after flight beyond what he had at first intended :-"Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ;" i. e., according to that portion of special infused grace which God sees needful for our several callings in His Church. " Wherefore he saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men." What gifts ? Surely, to those who think slightly of Apostolical order in the Church, the answer must appear very surprising. some, Apostles, and some, Prophets, and some, Evangelists, and some, Pastors and Teachers." I do not of

this text as proving by itself the Apostolical authority of our three orders. But thus much, undoubtedly, it proves, that some kind of order was instituted in the beginning, of so important and beneficial tendency, as to deserve a very high place in the enumeration of those royal gifts, by which the Holy Comforter solemnized the inauguration of the Son of God. We may, or we may not, enjoy that order still. We may have irrecoverably lost it by God's Providence justly visiting human abuse of it: in which case it might not strike us as a practical topic of inquiry : but to suppose that it still exists, or may be recovered, and yet to speak of it as an idle dream, a worn out theory, or (still worse) a profane superstition---this is not what one should expect from those who reverence the Divine Inspirer of this and similar passages in St. Paul. But to proceed: the Apostle goes on to mention unity of doctrine, as one main final cause of the institution of this Apostolical system. The Apostles, Prophets, and the rest, were given to the Church by the Holy Ghost, “ that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, by cunning craftiness,

course press

according to the wily system of deceit: but speaking the truth in love, may grow up unto Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ:" i. e. may daily go on unto perfection in serving and copying our adorable Saviour, and in nearer and nearer communion with Him.

It is clear that if the Apostolical ministry does guard effectually the foundations of our faith, it so far gives room and opportunity for all to go on to perfection. It puts men on a vantage ground, disencumbers them of cares and anxieties about that which is behind, and enables them with undivided energy to press forward to that which is before. As a mere witness, the Apostolical system, supposing it really such, must have this effect : and we must not forget, that on the same supposition, especial helps from Divine Grace may be looked for as likely to be vouchsafed to those who humbly endeavour to go on by its aid.

Now, that the great Head of the Church bas hitherto made use of the succession of Bishops as a singular mean for guarding the doctrine of His Incarnation in particular, was shown on a former occasion, by reference to the ancient Church : where it was proved, that both as indisputable witnesses, and as commissioned and responsible guardians, the Bishops of the three first centuries effectually maintained the truth for us. The same conclusion is now to be deduced from a more painful set of experiments, in which modern times, unfortunately, have too much abounded. We are to consider what has been the doctrinal result in those Churches which have been so bold as to dispense with primitive discipline and government. If we find them marked, in the great majority of cases, by great unsteadiness and vacillation of doctrinal views, even on those points which contain the very essence of our faith : will not this be an additional lesson to us, that by forsaking the Apostolical ministry we are but giving ourselves up to be “ tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine ?"

Now, first, although, as I said before, the heretics of the first ages dared not openly dispense with Apostolical succession, the times, as they well knew, not enduring it : yet they showed in some remarkable instances, how little they really cared for it. The following is the complaint of Tertullian in the second century :-" It may be right here to add some account of the practical system of the heretics, how futile it is, how altogether earthly and human; destitute of weight, of authority, of discipline: as well agreeing with their system of doctrine. First, who among them is a Catechumen, who a complete Christian, is a thing uncertain : they come to Church : hear the sermon, join in the prayers, indiscriminately : even should heathens chance to come in, they will throw their holy things to the dogs, and their pearls (which, indeed, are but counterfeits,) before swine. They hold the overthrow of discipline to be [Christian] simplicity; and our reverence for the same, meretricious art. Every where, and with all kinds of persons, they affect to be on good terms. For it makes no difference to them how they disagree in their own expositions, provided they can but unite for the overthrow of one thing, viz. Truth. All are puffed up: all profess knowledge. Their Catechumens become complete Christians before they have quite learned their lessons. The very women among the heretics, how forward are they! daring to teach, to dispute, to exorcise, to make show of gifts of healing : perhaps, even to baptize. Their ordinations are off-hand, light, variable ; sometimes mere novices are raised by them to Church office, sometimes men engaged in worldly business, sometimes deserters from our ranks ; whom they hope to make sure of by the compliment, having no reality" [of spiritual power]" to offer. In fact, promo. tion is nowhere so easy as in the camp of rebels ; since the very act of being there is rewardable service. Accordingly, one man shall be their Bishop to-day, another to-morrow : to-day a Deacon, to-morrow a reader : to-day a Presbyter, to-morrow a mere layman. For in laymen also they will vest the

powers

and functions of the Priesthood.

As an instance of what is thus generally stated by Tertullian, take the behaviour of Novatian, Presbyter in the Church of Rome, who, about the year 252, was the founder of a sect which professed especial strictness of moral discipline. The testimony concerning him, of his own Bishop, Cornelius, a prelate of the est character in the Church, is as follows :

“ Never in so short a time was so great a change seen, as we witnessed in Novatian. He was continually pledging himself by certain fearful oaths, that the Bishoprick was no object to him: and now, on a sudden, as it were by some stage trick, he comes forward in public a Bishop! · Reformer as he is of doctrine, and champion of pure Church principles, having entered on a scheme for making himself a Bishop, without Divine sanction, by underhand means, he selects two, as desperate as himself, and sends them into certain small and insignificant dioceses of Italy: where, lighting on three Bishops, (the requisite number for consecration,)“ men rustic, and very simple, he persuades them to come with all speed to Rome, as though by their mediation some present dispute in that Church might be composed. Being there come, he surrounds them with men like himself, provided for the

purpose; and at a late hour, after a full meal, when they were off their guard, compels them to make him Bishop, by I know not what imaginary and vain ordination."

Is it not plain that this person would have rejected the episcopal succession at once, if he could have compassed his ends without it? So far, therefore, he is an instance of the fact, that disrespect to that succession is a part of the heretical character. And although it is not exactly to the present purpose, I cannot refrain from adding also a circumstance which betrays his mind regarding the sacraments of Christ. Having set himself up as a schismatical rival to Cornelius, the true Bishop of Rome, this was his method of securing to himself partisans : in the act of solemnizing the holy Eucharist, “ when he had made the offerings, and was distributing to each communicant his portion, and conveying it to him, he compels the unfortunate men, instead of giving thanks to utter the following oath : he holding both their hands, and not letting them go until they repeated the words of asseveration after him: and these are bis very words :— Swear to me by the body and blood of our LORD Jesus Christ, that thou wilt never forsake me and return to Cornelius.' Nor is the poor man allowed to taste, before he shall have thus pronounced an imprecation on himself. And when he receives that bread, instead of saying, Amen, he is made say,

I will never return to Cornelius." It is frightful, but surely it is very instructive to see how one kind of profaneness thus draws on another. Contempt of Apos

to

tolical authority was joined, we see, in this case, with contempt of the Sacraments of CHRIST. In the worse case which followed, that of Arius, the same evil temper led, as every one knows, to a direct assault on the holiest truths of Christianity. The imme- : diate occasion of Arius' promulgating his blasphemy is said to have been his vexation at failing to succeed to the episcopal throne of Alexandria. This exasperated him so, that he laid in wait for an opportunity of disturbing the person preferred to him, Alexander, a man of true primitive energy. And he took occasion from certain expositions of Scripture, in which, as he, Arius, pretended to think, the Bishop had too much magnified the Son of God. The first spring, therefore, of his heresy was a rebellious and envious feeling towards his Bishop. And although for the same reason, probably, as Novatian, his followers never renounced the Apostolical succession; their proceedings were marked all along by a thorough disdain of Apostolical privileges. Witness their unscrupulous use of the civil power, or even of the fury of the populace, wherever it suited their purposes to carry an episcopal election, or control a synod, by such means: witness again the licence they encouraged of profane and libellous scoffing, both in prose and verse: by which, added to their improper appointments, they gradually depreciated the character of the most sacred office; so that it is quite melancholy to read the accounts given of what Bishops were at Constantinople in 381, as compared with what they had been at Nicæa, about sixty years before. All was no more than might be expected from a party, whose first overt proceeding are thus related by an eye-witness. They could not endure any longer to remain in submission to the Church ; but having builded for themselves dens of thieves, there they hold their meetings continually, by day and by night exercising themselves in calumnies against Christ and us. . . . They try to pervert those Scriptures which affirm our Lord's eternal Godhead and unspeakable glory with His Father. Thus encouraging the impious opinions of Jews and Heathens concerning Christ, they lay themselves out to the uttermost to be praised them : making the most of those points, which the unbelievers are most apt to ridicule ; and daily exciting tumults and factions against us. One of their methods

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